Monday, November 28, 2016
Watching the Genealogical Weather
When I was living in Mesa, Arizona in the low desert watching the weather was not all that entertaining. Our move to the mountains of Utah has changed that to some extent. We are never quite certain what the weather will be like and checking the weather can mean the difference between being prepared and having a cold, wet walk to the library.
Checking the genealogical weather has become a lot more interesting lately due to the huge movement of digital records into the major genealogy companies. For years now we have been witnessing secondhand, the digitization of over 2.4 million rolls of microfilm stored in the famous Granite Vault in Little Cottonwood Canyon just north of where I now live. Watching the numbers increase and seeing the effect of the availability of digital records online, firsthand, is akin to watching the weather. I guess the analogy comes from watching the snow pile up outside my window as I am writing this post.
The effects of that massive digitization effort are not nearly as visible as the snow piling up outside, but the impact of making those records more available will last a lot longer than this snowfall. One interesting part of this phenomena is that so few people are even aware that it is happening, even among the more active genealogists.
Every week, FamilySearch sends out an updated list of the newly added or indexed records. You can see the newest list in the FamilySearch.org Historical Record Collections by clicking on the link to Browse all Published Collections and then by clicking on the link in the words at the top of the "Last Updated" column. Here is a screenshot showing the latest updates from the date of this post.
The interesting thing about this list is that many of these digital records have been available for some time through the FamilySearch.org Catalog. They take a while to show up in the Historical Record Collections.
The Indexing of these records is ongoing. They have been indexing records using volunteers now for 10 years as is shown by this news release from today.
Those numbers appear to be cumulative totals. The records that are identified with the label "Browse Images" in the Historical Record Collections are waiting to be indexed. The entries with numbers mean at least some of the records have been indexed but not necessarily all of the records in the collections. If you want to check to see how many of the records have been indexed, you click on the name of the collection and compare the total number of records to the number on the list of the indexed records. For example, the Sweden, Västmanland Church Records, 1538-1901; index 1622-1860 records currently show 43,976 records, but the total number of records is actually shown after clicking on the name of the collection.
Watching these numbers change is not quite as interesting as the weather, but it does have more of an impact on my own research than the weather usually does.